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International Student Insurance Project
International Student Health Insurance in Finland
Overview
Time frame: 9 months from October 2010
Employer: Aalto University
Methods and tools: Desk research, Interviews, Personas, Journey mapping, Stakeholder mapping, Specification matrix
Summary: International students coming to study in Finland were required by EU law to have a certain level of health insurance. No insurance company in Finland would provide this service to the people who needed it. As this Directive was from 2004, the lack of concrete action nationally (and the distributed nature of compliance) had caused many problems for the students wishing to attend universities in Finland.

*Unfortunately there is no photographic or other documentation of this process

My Role
I was the instigator and the Co-lead on this national-level project. Originally I was only responsible for taking this forward for my own institution, Aalto University, but I quickly recognised that there was no competition (between Aalto and other institutions in Finland) in this process so I invite all other relevant higher education institutions into the process. It took longer but it was highly effective in solving a national problem.

Process
Desk research: Initially it started with desk research to find out the actual issue as there seemed to be a lot of dis jointed information about requirements, laws and who was responsible.   

Interviews: This initial research led to interviews with personnel from universities, students, insurance companies, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and the Ministry of the Interior (specifically Migri and the Police). All of these are stakeholders in this process. 

Specification Matrix: We built a matrix of the different types of insurance was needed and who needed it

Government stakeholder meeting: We held this meeting so that everyone could meet each other and understand the whole process. We went through the specification matrix and made sure that each Ministry knew what the process entailed

Journey mapping: After the interviews and the specification matrix there was a process of mapping how the students would get the insurance, how they would present it and how they would renew it.

Tendered: At this point we needed to send this out for tendering. We knew that there would be no Finnish insurance company that would bid for this service. So we focused on the European market. 

Design drivers
Affordability
Ease of accessibility
Acceptability and predictability (by authorities to ease their burden)
Speeds up Resident Permit applications
Difficult to get a refund

Important Insights
- The various government agencies had no idea what this process entailed.
- The students got first approval of adequate insurance from Migri but any subsequent years (for a multi-year degree) were approved by the Police- but there were no standard measurements for what was "adequate" which led to many having previously accepted insurance coverage rejected in the second year of studies leaving them without a vital requirement to stay in the country.
- Since this was post University Act 2010 reform, it showed the institutions that they can act without the government's approval or interference. 
- Migri and the Police had an onerous time assessing the validity and scope of insurance policies presented with applications. 
-Many students, due to cost, were purchasing insurance for the paperwork and then cancelling it leaving them 1) in violation of their residence permit and 2) vulnerable to having to pay the full cost of a hospital stay (could be tens of thousands of euros) if an accident or serious illness happened. 

The Outcome (expected and unexpected)
Expected
- The results of this are still used. You can go to the Study in Finland website: www.studyinfinland.fi/healthinsurance
- This insurance helps to speed up the Migri application process because this insurance is pre-approved.
- Reasonably priced and easily renewed

Unexpected
- This insurance is available for students but also for international university staff, their dependents, student dependents, and spouses. We were able to solve an HR issue we didn't originally know about. 
- This insurance is also available to Finnish students going abroad. We were not looking for a solution for them, but we found one.
Awarded
I was awarded the "Best international Act of the year" by the Aalto University Student Union in recognition of having addressing an important issue for their customers: https://ayy.fi/en/blog/2011/11/12/ayy-awarded-the-best-international-teacher-and-the-international-act-of-the-year-prizes/

International Student Insurance Project
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Pamela Spokes

International Student Insurance Project

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